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Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled a tablet computer aimed at its core business customers, as it tries to gain a foothold in a fast-growing market dominated by Apple’s iPad, according to a Reuters report carried by GulfNews.com.

The BlackBerry PlayBook has an 18 cm touchscreen, dual high-definition cameras and boasts support from corporate IT departments. It has WiFi and Bluetooth but needs to link with a BlackBerry smartphone to access a cellular network.

The device is scheduled to be released in the US in 2011, a RIM representative told Gulf News.

There was also no information about whether the device would run afoul of the planned ban on BlackBerry services in the UAE, currently scheduled for October 11.

RIM on Monday emphasized the PlayBook’s “uncompromised” web browsing experience — which, unlike the iPad, supports Adobe’s widely-used Flash multimedia software — as well as the tablet’s security.

The PlayBook will have a 7-inch screen, making it half the size of the iPad, and weigh about to the iPad’s. And unlike the iPad, it will have two cameras, front and back.

The PlayBook will be able to act as a second, larger screen for a BlackBerry phone, through a secure short-range wireless link. When the connection is severed – perhaps because the user walks away with the phone – no sensitive data like company e-mails are left on the tablet. Outside of Wi-Fi range, it will be able to pick up cellular service to access the Web by linking to a BlackBerry.

RIM expects to ship the device to corporate customers and developers in October, and to consumers starting early in 2011, meaning it will miss a crucial sales window in the holiday buying season.

In the meantime, many competing tablets are expected to hit the market.

The company did not reveal how much it would charge for the PlayBook, and pricing could be an important factor in its adoption.

An Associated Press cited IDC saying that the corporate market for tablet computers will grow as a portion of overall sales over the next few years. IDC forecasts that roughly 11% of overall tablet shipments, or 6.5 million units, will be to businesses, government agencies or schools by 2014. That would be up from just 2%, or 300,000 units, this year. And that figure doesn’t count those who buy tablet computers on their own and use them for work. — Source: GulfNews.com, AP

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